Job 26:1
But Job answered and said,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XXVI.

(1) Then answered Job.—Job himself has virtually said much the same as Bildad (Job 9:2; Job 14:4), so he makes no further comment on his remarks here, but merely asks how he has helped him thereby, or others like him in a weak and helpless condition.

Job 26:1. But Job answered and said — Job, finding his friends quite driven from their strong hold, and reduced to give up the argument, now begins to triumph, Job 26:2-3. He tells them, if the business was to celebrate the power and wisdom of the Almighty, he could produce as many shining instances of it as they could; but, at the same time, he intimates that their behaviour was mean, after so great a parade of wisdom as they had exhibited, to shelter themselves at last behind the power of God, rather than generously give up an argument which they were unable to maintain, and acquit him of a suspicion which they were not capable of supporting by a conviction. — Heath.

26:1-4 Job derided Bildad's answer; his words were a mixture of peevishness and self-preference. Bildad ought to have laid before Job the consolations, rather than the terrors of the Almighty. Christ knows how to speak what is proper for the weary, Isa 50:4; and his ministers should not grieve those whom God would not have made sad. We are often disappointed in our expectations from our friends who should comfort us; but the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, never mistakes, nor fails of his end.How much less man - See Job 4:19. Man is mentioned here as a worm; in Job 4:19 he is said to dwell in a house of clay and to be crushed before the moth. In both cases the design is to represent him as insignificant in comparison with God.

A worm - רמה rı̂mmâh; see Job 7:5. The word is commonly applied to such worms as are bred in putridity, and hence, the comparison is the more forcible.

And the son of man - Another mode of speaking of man. Any one of the children of man is the same. No one of them can be compared with God; compare the notes at Matthew 1:1.

Which is a worm - תולעה tôlê‛âh; compare the notes at Isaiah 1:18. This word frequently denotes the worm from which the scarlet or crimson color was obtained. It is, however, used to denote the worm that is bred on putrid substances, and is so used here; compare Exodus 16:20; Isaiah 14:11; Isaiah 66:24. It is also applied to a worm that destroys plants. Jonah 4:7; Deuteronomy 28:39. Here it means, that man is poor, feeble, powerless. In comparison with God he is a crawling worm. All that is said in this chapter is true and beautiful, but it has nothing to do with the subject in debate. Job had appealed to the course of events in proof of the truth of his position. The true way to meet that was either to deny that the facts existed as he alleged, or to show that they did not prove what be had adduced them to establish. But Bildad did neither; nor did he ingenuously confess that the argument was against him and his friends. At this stage of the controversy, since they had nothing to reply to what Job had alleged, it would have been honorable in them to have acknowledged that they were in error, and to have yielded the palm of victory to him. But it requires extraordinary candor and humility to do that; and rather than do it, most people would prefer to say something - though it has nothing to do with the case in hand.

CHAPTER 26

THIRD SERIES.

Job 26:1-14. Job's Reply.Job’s reply: this toucheth not Job, Job 26:1-4; who acknowledgeth God’ power and providence to be infinite and unsearchable, of which we have but small knowledge Job 26:5-14.

No text from Poole on this verse.

But Job answered,.... In a very sharp and biting manner; one would wonder that a man in such circumstances should have so much keenness of spirit, and deal in so much irony, and be master of so much satire, and be able to laugh at his antagonist in the manner he does:

and said; as follows.

But Job answered and said,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verses 1, 2. - But Job answered and said, How hast thou helped him that is without power? Assuming Bildad's benevolent intentions towards himself, Job asks, how he can suppose that what he has said will in any way be helpful to a person in so helpless a condition? He had told Job nothing that Job had not repeatedly allowed. How savest thou the arm that hath no strengtht? It could not invigorate Job's arm, any more than it could cheer his heart, to be told that man was a worm, or that he was wholly unclean in God's sight (Job 25:4, 6). Job 26:1Instead of the appellation מרומיו, which reminds one of Isaiah 24:21, - where a like peacemaking act of judgment on the part of God is promised in reference to the spirit-host of the heights that have been working seductively among the nations on earth, - גּדוּדיו, of similar meaning to צבאיו, used elsewhere, occurs in this verse. The stars, according to biblical representation, are like an army arrayed for battle, but not as after the Persian representation - as an army divided into troops of the Ahuramazd and Angramainyus (Ahriman), but a standing army of the children of light, clad in the armour of light, under the guidance of the one God the Creator (Isaiah 40:26, comp. the anti-dualistic assertion in Isaiah 45:7). The one God is the Lord among these numberless legions, who commands their reverence, and maintains unity among them; and over whom does not His light arise? Umbr. explains: who does not His light, which He communicates to the hosts of heaven, vanquish (קוּם על in the usual warlike meaning: to rise against any one); but this is a thought that is devoid of purpose in this connection. אורהו with the emphatic suff. hu (as Job 24:23, עיניהוּ) at any rate refers directly to God: His light in distinction from the derived light of the hosts of heaven. This distinction is better brought out if we interpret (Merc., Hirz., Hahn, Schlottm., and others): over whom does (would) not His light arise? i.e., all receive their light from His, and do but reflect it back. But יקוּם equals יזרח cannot be justified by Job 11:17. Therefore we interpret with Ew. and Hlgst. thus: whom does not His light surpass, or, literally, over whom (i.e., which of these beings of light) does it not rise, leaving it behind and exceeding it in brightness (יקוּם as synon. of ירוּם)? How then could a mortal be just with God, i.e., at His side or standing up before Him; and how could one of woman born be spotless! How could he (which is hereby indirectly said) enter into a controversy with God, who is infinitely exalted above him, and maintain before Him a moral character faultless, and therefore absolutely free from condemnation! In the heights of heaven God's decision is revered; and should man, the feeble one, and born flesh of flesh (vid., Job 14:1), dare to contend with God? Behold, עד־ירח (עד, as usually when preceded by a negation, adeo, ne ... quidem, e.g., Exodus 14:28, comp. Nahum 1:10, where J. H. Michaelis correctly renders: adeo up spinas perplexitate aequent, and אל used in the same way, Job 5:5, Ew. 219, c), even as to the moon, it does not (ולא with Waw apod., Ges. 145, 2, although there is a reading לא without ו) shine bright, יאחיל equals יהל, from אהל equals הלל.

(Note: It is worthy of observation, that hilâl signifies in Arabic the new moon (comp. Genesis, S. 307); and the Hiphil ahalla, like the Kal halla, is used of the appearing and shining of the new moon.)

Thus lxx, Targ. Jer., and Gecatilia translate; whereas Saadia translates: it turns not in (Arab. lâ ydchl), or properly, it does not pitch its tent, fix its habitation. But to pitch one's tent is אהל or אהל, whence יהל, Isaiah 13:20, equals יאהל; and what is still more decisive, one would naturally expect יאהיל שׁם in connection with this thought. We therefore render אהל as a form for once boldly used in the scriptural language for הלל, as in Isaiah 28:28 אדשׁ once occurs for דּוּשׁ. Even the moon is only a feeble light before God, and the stars are not clean in His eyes; there is a vast distance between Him and His highest and most glorious creatures - how much more between Him and man, the worm of the dust!

The friends, as was to be expected, are unable to furnish any solution of the mystery, why the ungodly often live and die happily; and yet they ought to be able to give this solution, if the language which they employ against Job were authorized. Bildad alone speaks in the above speech, Zophar is silent. But Bildad does not utter a word that affects the question. This designed omission shows the inability of the friends to solve it, as much as the tenacity with which they firmly maintain their dogma; and the breach that has been made in it, either they will not perceive or yet not acknowledge, because they think that thereby they are approaching too near to the honour of God. Moreover, it must be observed with what delicate tact, and how directly to the purpose in the structure of the whole, this short speech of Bildad's closes the opposition of the friends. Two things are manifest from this last speech of the friends: First, that they know nothing new to bring forward against Job, and nothing just to Job's advantage; that all their darts bound back from Job; and that, though not according to their judgment, yet in reality, they are beaten. This is evident from the fact that Bildad is unable to give any answer to Job's questions, but can only take up the one idea in Job's speech, that he confidently and boldly thinks of being able to approach God's throne of judgment; he repeats with slight variation what Eliphaz has said twice already, concerning the infinite distance between man and God, Job 4:17-21; Job 15:14-16, and is not even denied by Job himself, Job 9:2; Job 14:4. But, secondly, the poet cannot allow us to part from the friends with too great repugnance; for they are Job's friends notwithstanding, and at the close we see them willingly obedient to God's instruction, to go to Job that he may pray for them and make sacrifice on their behalf. For this reason he does not make Bildad at last repeat those unjust incriminations which were put prominently forward in the speech of Eliphaz, Job 22:5-11. Bildad only reminds Job of the universal sinfulness of the human race once again, without direct accusation, in order that Job may himself derive from it the admonition to humble himself; and this admonition Job really needs, for his speeches are in many ways contrary to that humility which is still the duty of sinful man, even in connection with the best justified consciousness of right thoughts and actions towards the holy God.

1 Then Job began, and said:

2 How has thou helped him that is without power,

Raised the arm that hath no strength!

3 How hast thou counselled him that hath no wisdom,

And fully declared the essence of the matter!

4 To whom hast thou uttered words,

And whose breath proceeded from thee?

Bildad is the person addressed, and the exclamations in Job 26:2, Job 26:3 are ironical: how thy speech contains nothing whatever that might help me, the supposedly feeble one, in conquering my affliction and my temptation; me, the supposedly ignorant one, in comprehending man's mysterious lot, and mine! ללא־כח, according to the idea, is only equivalent to כח לו (אין) לאשׁר לא, and זרוע לא־עז equivalent to זרוע בלא־עז (לא עז לו); the former is the abstr. pro concreto, the latter the genitival connection - the arm of the no-power, i.e., powerless (Ges. 152, 1). The powerless one is Job himself, not God (Merc., Schlottm.), as even the choice of the verbs, Job 26:2, Job 26:3, shows. Respecting תּוּשׁיּה, which we have translated essentiality, duration, completion, we said, on Job 5:12, that it is formed from ישׁ (vid., Proverbs 8:21), not directly indeed, but by means of a verb ושׁי brev a fo (ושׁה), in the signification subsistere (comp. Arab. kân, and Syriac קום);

(Note: Comp. also Spiegel, Grammatik der Huzvresch-Sprache, S. 103.)

it is a Hophal-formation (like תּוּגה), and signifies, so to speak, durability, subsistentia, substantia, ὑπόστασις, so that the comparison of ושׁי with אשׁשׁ, Arab. 'ss (whence אשׁישׁ, Arab. ası̂s, asâs, etc., fundamentum) is forced upon one, and the relationship to the Sanskrit as (asmi equals εἰμὶ) can remain undecided. The observation of J. D. Michaelis

continued...

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